Star Fleet: The Space Quest For F-01
Title: Star Fleet: The Space Quest For F-01
Genre: Animation, Action, Sci-Fi,
Director: Go Nagai
Language: Japanese (English Dubs)
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... well the 80s in Japan – which back then might as well have been another galaxy – the ripples of Star Wars, and the western film medium in general could be heard resonating and rattling the barely occupied skull of Go Nagai. This is a film that by its very concept alone should have made its way to cult classic status decades ago, and if not for its origins probably would have, but instead for too many it's destined to be 'just another weirdass Japanese flick' despite feeling about as Western as they come, heavily ripping off Star Wars throughout whilst making use of puppetry that comes straight out of Gerry Anderson's (Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Stingray, Thunderbirds) 'how to' guide. Back when it was first released it was a flop in Japan and it only received acclaim when it hit the shores of the US/UK, but it's short lived nature has since meant it's faded from memory, and it's about time it was re-introduced for my generation.
It all feels like it came out of a four year old's toy box; an X-Wing with a broken nose (the infamous 'X-Bomber,' because calling it an X-Wing would be too obvious) and another ship from Star Wars or Star Trek tossed in for good measure; crewed by Luke and Leia figurines complete with Leia's long-term nanny, the Wampa ice creature from 'Empire Strikes Back,' who fight along side Shaft and a guy resembling those trolls with funny hair that evidently got put in there by mistake, with all the personality of that robot from 'Buck Rogers' that went “Beedy Beedy.” On the other side of the war lies the head honcho; a barbie doll wearing a viking helmet, with her right hand man, an odd assortment of various aliens from various other TV shows – largely Star Wars, Star Trek and He-Man – and her private army of giant praying mantis assassins wielding ray guns. Seriously.
The plot isn't all that much better at convincing anyone they've just ripped off the preceding half decade of western TV and film either. Shortly before the turn of the third millennium the EDF's outpost on Pluto is demolished by a gigantic alien battle cruiser, the evil commander Makara making Earth aware that unless they hand over the mysterious F-01 that they can expect the same fate, but their own data banks fail to find any reference to the elusive F-01. Setting into motion the secret X-Project – the X-Bomber – to tackle the superior force, on their journey their passenger Lamia reveals that she believes herself to be F-01, with as yet to emerge supernatural powers that would allow her to rule the universe (*coughJEDIcough*). With half the crew calling bullshit but the commander saying 'fuck it, its worth a shot,' they concoct a devious plan to use her to end Makara's tyranny once and for all, discovering the secret of F-01 in the process.
The members of Star Fleet's Earth Defence Force (EDF, or 'rebels' really) and the 'X-Bomber' whose crew the story revolves all sport American accents with the occasional European one thrown in; a bad English accented General or a French accented pilot ironically screaming “She eez heet” (given their undeserved reputation at sucking in fights) spring to mind, whilst the enemy, the Imperial Empire (no seriously, that's what they're called), largely sporting a fake Russian accent that can only be referred to as one of the most accidentally racist things I've ever seen. But with this aside, much of the technical aspect was well done; the movement from the puppets is a match for anything Anderson himself could have come up with; there are more demolished ships, planets than you can shake a stick at – all done hilariously badly as per the time – and the soundtrack rarely fails to complement the story, despite clearly being constructed on a very tight budget.
At under 90 minutes, it moves with such a lightning pace that never feels the need to explain itself more than what's needed to get the gist of the story – which isn't admittedly too difficult to follow – making as much use of their time to ram head first into the next scene of unintentional comedy, and whilst half the humour would be removed by explaining any of the bizarre events that occur, you can rest assured that there are plenty of scenes ripped out of Star Wars like a hungry lion after the still beating heart of a dinner that isn't quite dead yet. And if you thought that metaphor was strange then you clearly haven't seen anything like this before. There is is a careful line the likes of Tarantino and Rodriquez have tread between respectful homage and plagiarism, but not since Turkish Star Wars have I witnessed such gratuitous plagiarism, and yet if it wasn't so hilariously bad and accidentally racist it probably would have never seen the light of day. This must make its way to the top of the pile of films that are so downright awful that they'll have you in stitches from start to finish. And if that doesn't seal the deal, Brian May (Queen) loved it enough to make an epic 8 minute cover it with Van Halen, the drummer from Reo Speedwagon and a few others, even naming the album in its honour. Unseen by many, to those who remember it it shall forever live on.